Ursula Keller wins “Swiss Nobel” Marcel Benoist Prize- for pioneering work in ultrafast lasers
MUST2022 Conference- a great success!
New scientific highlights- by MUST PIs Wörner, Chergui, and Richardson
FELs of Europe prize for Jeremy Rouxel- “Development or innovative use of advanced instrumentation in the field of FELs”
Ruth Signorell wins Doron prizefor pioneering contributions to the field of fundamental aerosol science
New FAST-Fellow Uwe Thumm at ETH- lectures on Topics in Femto- and Attosecond Science
International Day of Women and Girls in Science- SSPh asked female scientists about their experiences
New scientific highlight- by MUST PIs Milne, Standfuss and Schertler
EU XFEL Young Scientist Award for Camila Bacellar,beamline scientist and group leader of the Alvra endstation at SwissFEL
Prizes for Giulia Mancini and Rebeca Gomez CastilloICO/IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Optics & Ernst Haber 2021
Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to RESOLV Member Benjamin List- for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis
NCCR MUST at Scientifica 2021- Lightning, organic solar cells, and virtual molecules

Technology Transfer

Photonics plays an important role in Switzerland, in basic research as well as in industry. NCCR MUST concentrates on basic research and on excelling in pushing the frontiers of knowledge. To bridge the challenging gap to the markets NCCR MUST Technology Transfer activities aim to:

  • strengthen the connections between its researchers and industrial key players.
  • initiate and support technology transfer activities
  • profit from the interaction with the industry

For the first three years of the NCCR MUST, Christoph Harder (president of SwissPhotonics, an expert in the Swiss photonics landscape) helped us to establish a sustainable Technology Transfer Program. Especially the Industrial Project Program (IPP) has proven to be an effective measure and has been the core of our Technology Transfer Program. IPPs allow NCCR MUST PIs to bridge the gap between a laboratory type equipment and a product relevant to industry, and provided seed-funding for InnoSuisse Project applications. Furthermore, it has encouraged students and/or PIs to engage in start-up enterprises using Technology Transfer Workshops (only in Phase I) and IP and technology transfer support.

  • Research Tools: exchange of equipment developed for fundamental research with an inventory of NCCR MUST technology and tools
MUST has identified several promising areas for technology transfer:
  • MUST pushes the frontiers of experimental measurement systems with new - in house developed - equipment. Thus, the major potential market segment is sophisticated photonic instrumentation with applications such as those in production quality control, environmental pollution, sensing, and health markets.
  • Development of new detectors and sensor materials. MUST is not developing detectors in the classical sense, such as CCD cameras. However, MUST researchers are constantly developing schemes, i.e. combinations of devices (including detectors) and software to measure things that could not be measured otherwise. Improved understanding of molecular ultrafast processes can lead to extremely sensitive detectors, as for example the detector to monitor atmospheric pollutants deployed on the PlanetSolar Deepwater project (see Plair), or the use of ultrafast lasers in laser ablation ionization mass spectrometers, which is the basis of start-up IONIGHT. Other examples are the development of advanced measurement electronics for MID-IR detection (Hamm, UZH with PhaseTech); a collaborative project with the start-up Aquantis SA to provide inline measurement solutions for process and quality control in the food and pharmaceutical industries (Moser, EPFL); a new laser sensor to detect pathogen spores in vineyards, like downy and powdery mildew (Wolf, UniGE); a scintillation detector for 2D beam profile reconstruction (Carbone, EPFL); a chirped ultrafast spectrometer for radio astronomy and to perform radiation testing of ultrafast lasers for low orbit space applications (Feurer, UniBE); a cost effective very compact linear array camera for ultrafast UV/Vis/NIR experiments (Feurer/Cannizzo, UniBE).
  • Atmospheric applications (mainly targeted by PI Wolf), such as "laser weather control" (triggering lightning, cloud seeding) and multiphoton/tunnel molecular ionization.
  • Lasers for material processing and micro-machining. Standard milling of materials with a laser beam causes damage due to thermal effects. Such thermal effects can be avoided by milling the material with ultrashort pulses (“cold material processing”).
  • FELs: synchronizing electron accelerator machines (timing).
  • Multiphoton microscopy is one of the most powerful light-microscopy techniques, and the availability of economic (cheap) pulsed IR lasers could really revolutionize the field.
  • Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM): In the laboratory for Ultrafast Microscopy and Electron Scattering (LUMES, group Carbone at EPFL), a commercially available JEOL 2100 TEM was modified to make it into a microscope capable of taking femtosecond-resolved movies of materials. This may lead to the construction of a true ad-hoc designed TEM for ultrafast operation.
  • The Fitting Wizard (group Meuwly, UniBA), developed a toolkit for multipolar force field parameters for atomistic simulations, which was partly financed by IPP. The toolkit fits distributed charge models to electron densities. A user-friendly interface was developed by Supercomputing Systems Zürich. The Meuwly group also implemented the multistate molecular mechanics with proton transfer (MS-MMPT) method and the 3-dimensional reproducing kernel Hilbert space (3d-RKHS) in CHARMM.
  • Ursula Röthlisberger (EPFL) is actively involved in the development of the new multiscale simulation platform MiMiC to be released under general public license.

In general, we have seen that successful technology transfer comes from researchers and groups that were already linked to industry. For other PIs it was often difficult to recognize potential applications or technology transfer was seen as distraction from scientific goals. Moreover, establishing joint NCCR MUST – industry workshops was less successful, as the gap between the fundamental research output and possible applications in industry was deemed too large.

Nevertheless, the measures implemented by the NCCR MUST succeeded to realize an impressive record of technology transfer, with patents, new products in photonics and other, often unrelated areas, and start-ups. NCCR MUST KTT initiatives also were able to generate further funding from CTI/Innosuisse for advanced technology transfer and product development.


NCCR MUST Office : ETHZ IQE/ULP-HPT H3 | Auguste-Piccard-Hof 1 | 8093 Zurich | E-Mail
The National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) are a research instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation